(CBS) — If you’re looking for the perfect family Christmas photo, an expert says plan ahead before visiting Santa.

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Social worker Ellen Rosendale, who heads family services at Lurie Children’s Hospital, suggests you prep your child by talking about what Santa looks like and what to expect.

Immortalized in “A Christmas Story” or “Awkward Family Photos,” the sight of children crying on Santa’s lap is as much a part of the season as tinsel.

Other ways to avoid a meltdown would be to have mom or dad hold a scared child or have the little one stand next to the big man, rather than sit on his lap.

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“Parents should be ready with other ways of getting that picture,” Rosendale says.

And finding a sympathetic Santa is a good idea, too.

Whatever you do, she says don’t threaten the kid with losing presents.

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Rosendale encourages parents to think beyond the picture and remember that the experience is supposed to be fun.